Last week, as riots in Ferguson, Missouri decrescendoed and the country held its collective breath over the question of the indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, rappers Diddy (formerly P. Diddy, formerly Puff Daddy, formerly Sean Combs), 2 Chainz, The Game, and Rick Ross, along with 10 of their fellows, released a song: "Don't Shoot."
The Game explained why he felt the necessity to record the song: "I am a black man with kids of my own that I love more than anything, and I cannot fathom a horrific tragedy like Michael Brown's happening to them. This possibility has shaken me to my core."
The lyrics of the song speak to a perverse view of race in America -- a view reinforced day after day by a media dedicated to the proposition that American law enforcement maliciously targets black men at random. To this point, nobody knows the facts of the case in the Brown shooting. Nonetheless, the rappers label the shooting cold-blooded, first-degree murder. Because facts are unnecessary; only feelings are real. "God ain't put us on the Earth to get murdered, it's murder," says one rapper, TGT. Another, The Game, raps, "They killin' teens, they killin' dreams, it's murder."
Next, Diddy launches into a listing of various black men killed under controversial circumstances. Some, like Emmett Till, were murdered in acts of pure and evil racism. But Diddy lumps together Till with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown -- and even Ezell Ford. Last week, the Los Angeles Police Department released the identities of the two police officers who shot Ford. One was Asian; the other was Hispanic. The Huffington Post did not even cover their races. The Los Angeles Times buried that relevant fact in paragraph 13 of their comprehensive story. But again, facts do not matter: Only a feeling of persecution matters.
Then Rick Ross sums up the generalized view of America created by media-stoked racial conflagrations like the Michael Brown situation: "Black men, we pay the toll, the price is your life, Uncle Sam want a slice, black dress code now we looting in the night, now we throwing Molotovs in this Holocaust." A grand total of just under 100 young black men are killed by white police officers each year, according to statistics provided to the FBI by local police. To compare police treatment of young black men to the Holocaust is not only statistically idiotic, but also morally dangerous.
Nonetheless, that is the view of police for many blacks: police as paramilitary white force out to target black men. When I was recently in the CNN green room with former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones, he and I got to talking about the Ferguson situation. I asked him why he believed there was such a racial gap in the interpretation of the situation. His answer: "You're Jewish, right? Wouldn't you jump to conclusions if you heard that the Nazis or Hamas had killed a Jew?"
Of course, not even Van Jones, Diddy, 2 Chainz, and the rest truly believe what they say about the police. All those who spout about a "Holocaust" by police against blacks would call 911 in approximately 3.5 seconds if their houses were robbed. But if we truly believe that America's police forces are akin to Nazis or Islamic terrorists, there can be no decent solution. Fighting police would be a moral imperative, not a moral evil.
And therein lies the problem. The only real answer to the antipathy between large segments of the black community and police is threefold: first, taking seriously fact-based allegations of racism against the authorities, and investigating and prosecuting such allegations if well-founded; second, not jumping to conclusions about non-fact-based allegations; and third, lowering crime rates among young black men, thereby lowering interactions between police and young black men.
But those are not solutions backed by the racially delusional. Instead, they suggest an unending and circular "conversation" about race that goes something like this: Police sometimes shoot young black men; that's because police are racist; therefore, those who resist police are not morally unjustified; rinse, wash, repeat.
Sadly, America's media backs this second approach. And so we end up with damaging foolishness like "Don't Shoot" infusing our pop culture and the snarky but empty-headed racial guilting of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert invading our news. And nothing gets solved. We just get more hate, more rage and more violence.